Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Trouble With Believers

You know, "believers" do the strangest things.

By believers, I mean Christians, but it can be applied to true believers of any religious bent or ideology. People who become completely and totally invested in something to the point that they sacrifice all vestiges of their God-given ability to critically process information can be quite interesting. I am a believer, but I'm not that sort of believer.

The reason for this observation lies in an issue currently taking up valuable space in our news cycle. Recently, President Obama has been lambasted for a requirement in his healthcare law that mandates that faith-based groups provide mandatory contraceptive coverage for their employees. The rule has driven Catholics insane because of their prohibitions on birth control, and the feeling that the government is forcing them to violate the tenets of their faith. I heard Mitt Romney appealing to that very sentiment at a recent rally, telling the crowd that they are under attack by people who don't share their belief in God.


No one is forcing Catholics or any other religious person to take birth control. No one. People are not being forced to have abortions, or take the morning after pill, or fornicate or commit adultery or do any of the other sexual sins discussed or implied in the Bible. Nobody is infringing on First Amendment rights.

Instead, what's happening is that the government is telling religions they cannot reap the benefits of the government without following some of its rules. They are not forcing believers to violate their faith, they are saying that healthcare providers must provide certain levels of care to all people. Those people have the choice of whether they accept that care.

It's the choice that's the problem. Conservatives love to claim they want government out of their lives, but in reality what they really want is for government to stop guaranteeing other people rights that they would prefer to limit. See, abortion doesn't impact other people. It impacts the woman having the abortion and the child whose life is ended before it's begun. There is no impact on anyone else. Yet, other people would prefer to make that choice illegal for a woman because they don't agree with it, even as they get upset that the government would make it illegal for them to do the things they want to do. Blatant hypocrisy.

Too many religious people are afraid to give their converts choice. They want to take on a role that even God has rejected. God does not force us to make certain choices. There are options and there are consequences. We may not like the options and we may not agree with the consequences, but ultimately we have the freedom to make whatever choices we want to make. These social conservatives don't want that for people whose beliefs don't align with their tenets, and that bothers me deeply. The sort of hypocrisy that allows you to be comfortable with denying other people freedoms you yourself demand is the sort of hypocrisy that allows people to justify terrible atrocities.

That is what scares me about many conservatives. They can justify things that are not justifiable. They are willing to set aside their beliefs when those beliefs become too inconvenient. That spells trouble. Serious trouble.



Dirty Red said...

You are spot on my brother.. Hypocrisy to the fullest..

lifelearner said...

You are speaking truth, Big Man. The conservatives want to have it their way or no way. It is completely hypocritical. Have you seen that new study about low IQ and conservatism/bigotry?- spot on!

Shady_Grady said...

I'm not a conservative or a Catholic but I don't see it this way at all. It is about separation of Church and State. The Catholic church does not abide by bc. You may think that's silly. I certainly do.

But it's their rule. They should have the right to set the rules for their organizations. They are not preventing anyone from receiving or using bc. They're just saying that "we aren't going to pay for that". Christian Scientists and Amish have exclusions from this new law. The Catholics want one as well.

Big Man said...

Well Shady I think that if you're an entity that depends on government funding to survive, you need to play by the government's rules.

If you operate your hospital or university without any support from the government in any way, I could see you having an exemption. But, most hospitals are dependent on government payouts. Same with universities and federal funding. Once you get in that position, the government has the right to say that if you want to continue getting our money, this is the service we demand. It's simple to me.

If you don't want the government in your business, keep them out of your business completely.

Shady_Grady said...

If it were that simple the Church and other institutions would be quite happy to refuse any Medicare/Medicaid payments. This new HHS rule does not make any distinction based on source of payments of funding. If you are a 100% private religious school that refuses any government strings of any kind, you would still be subject to this rule.

This is why the Catholic hierarchy (liberal and conservative) is so upset. It's a violation of their conscience and separation of church/state. They appear to be willing to go to the mattresses on this. I hope they do. There are some important principles here.

Big Man said...

From what I've heard, several states already require religious organizations to provide contraceptives as part of state law. So this isn't a new issue.
Secondly, most universities receive federal funding for research and in the form of student loans and grants for their students. Not to mention the other grants and matching funds they depend on.
I think that if you removed all federal funding from every religious organization, whether in the form of grants, reimbursements or direct funding, many of them would collapse and be unable to perform their very important services. The line between church and state is already incredibly blurred, the issue is that religious organizations are fine with that as long as they can do what they want. It's only when government starts making demands that they start asking for separation.

Shady_Grady said...

It's really not the same thing. Most of the states that do have mandates place mandates on insurers, not employers. The Catholic Church or other religious institutions that objected could avoid such mandates by self-insuring or other wise offering different plans. The proposed (now thankfully modified) HHS mandate was more broad reaching than any state mandate.

The Catholic Church and its institutions pre-date the modern welfare state. If it comes to it they will stop providing the services they do. They've proven that in the past. They provide a tremendous amount of charitable works that the state could not do at the same cost.

First Amendment restricts the sort of choice that the Administration was trying to force on the Church. The State doesn't get to tell the Church what to do. It can't sue the Catholics for not having women priests; it can't require them to provide bc in contravention of their teachings.

Big Man said...

Thanks for the different perspective homie.

Shady_Grady said...

NP. Thx for intelligent rebuttal. All's well that ends well.

Raving Black Lunatic